Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Smoke and Mirrors 

Gosh, you think W's speech tonight has anything to do with trying to distract the sheepies from the point of the Downing Street Memo? He lied in order to invade Iraq. There were no WMDs. There was no connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. The intelligence was fixed to fit the objective. The facts were invented to justify the invasion of a sovreign nation.

No amount of saying "War on Terra" and "911" and "Booga Booga" is going to change that. No grandstanding about an Iraqi Constitution is going to change that. More lies now aren't going to change the lies of the past.

I'm writing this as the speech goes on, and I'm still half expecting W to announce the imminent invastion of Iran. Except that, oddly enough, he hasn't mentioned that country yet. Syria, Lybia, even Saudi Arabia. But no Iran. And no North Korea. Things that make you go hm...

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Monday, June 27, 2005

False Profits 

Anybody remember this guy, the "Prophet" Yahweh, who was going to call down a big ass UFO to hover over Las Vegas during the first two weeks of June? Um... I remember the original story, but I don't remember no big ass UFOs hovering over Vegas for several days.

This dude kind of got the ball rolling when he lured a (gullible) news crew out and showed them a UFO. And, on first inspection, the video seems pretty spooky. Yahweh takes a news crew out in the field, summons UFO on demand.

Except... note the "whoo-hoo" wording. The news crew makes a big deal about meeting Yahweh at a time and place of their choice. So? He knew ahead of time. And, seems to me, if you tell someone, "We're going to meet you at the far end of the strip at three o'clock on Tuesday," it makes it pretty easy for him to have a confederate with the magic weather balloon hiding nearby.

If I'd been running this show, it'd have gone like this. We'd ask Yahweh where we could pick him up, then we'd collect him in a limo with darkened windows, blindfold his ass, and drive a zig-zag route to hell and back. He couldn't object if his powers were legit, right? And then, after hauling him all over Vegas until he had no idea where he was, we'd pop him out of the limo, insist on a pat-down search (can't have any pesky pagers or cellphones in the way, can we?). And then, we'd insist he keep his hands on the car while he summons his UFO.

Look to the skies and see... jack shit.

Watch the video again with one thing in mind: Yahweh is in the field with some suck-ass gullible reporters, and whatever it is floating in the sky was unleashed by a confederate hidden beyond the trees, a confederate who knew the exact time and location of the meeting. "Time and place of our chosing" is a red-herring, because it doesn't mean that Yahweh had no control. He had all the control in the world.

I think that Yahweh is just a publicity whore. If he were legit, he'd call down a UFO to hover over the White House, or over #10 Downing Street (memo)... or somewhere not so touristy.

And, like all "prophets," once the date for his feat has passed and nothing has happened, you won't see him media-whoring so much anymore. Paging Jean Dixon, or the Amazing Criswell, or all the others...

Oops. Did I just mention two dead psychics? And, your point? None of them ever made a valid prediction in their lifetime. In fact, I have a book by Criswell in my collection that's rather amusing, since it predicted that the world would end in December 1999. Oops. We're still here. He's not. And the Prophet Yahweh is as full of shit as any of them.

UFOs over Vegas? Nah. Other than a naive news crew, I ain't seen no such thing.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Theocracy in Sheep's Clothing 

Meanwhile, in Israel, the religious bigots have their heads as far up their asses as the American ones:
Jerusalem officials said Thursday they will ban the annual gay pride parade set for next week, claiming the march would offend many of the holy city's residents.
Oh, fuck you. This coming from the same government that claims to be the world target for oppression, and they perpetuate the same crap themselves. Most American Jews I know have no problem with gays; in fact, some of the most gay-friendly straight people I know are Jewish. Why? Because they know what it's like to be oppressed. Historically, in America, in fact, Jews and Gays have often been banished to the same ghettos. Or have you never heard of show biz?

So, whose asses are the powers that be in Jerusalem kissing? Hm. Must be the Muslims. They're the only religious folk in that area I can think of who would be offended by an inclusive, tolerant parade.

And, anyway -- this is democracy and freedom? The thing our government is supposed to be supporting in the Middle East? Hm. Seems to me that, instead of Iran, after we pull our asses out of Iraq, we should be looking elsewhere to instill Western Democracy.

Fucking hypocrites...

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Leo Yes, Tom No 

Far too much has been made in the news the last couple of days about Tom Cruise getting squirted in the face with water by a British comedy show crew at the London premiere of War of the Worlds. Far, far too much -- and I found Cruise's reaction to be way out of line. It was fucking water, dude. Oh, you got wet. Boo-hoo. Makes me think that he really hasn't been taking his Scientology training seriously because, from what I understand of that... um... system, if his reactive mind were under control, a little water in the face would mean nothing to him. And yet, to perpetuate the story, they now report that he's considering legal action against the squirter.

Give me a fucking break. I'm sure Mr. Cruise has been squirted in the face plenty of times before and didn't sue. And he certainly got off easier than Leo DiCaprio, who was hit in the head with a beer bottle by a crazed woman crashing a party. DiCaprio wound up with fourteen stitches, and is pressing charges -- as well he should.

Leo was assaulted. Tom was not. Unless you count assault against a fragile ego as a crime. But, the more he whines about it, the more ridiculous he looks. Combine that with the infamous Oprah appearance, and I think he's in danger of putting his own career right in the toilet.

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From the Dark Side 

UPDATE: Whores. Apparently, you can only sign the card if you send the prez money. Fucking bastards. Of course, the minimum amount you can send is $1.01. Probably costs them more to collect that than it's worth. But, still, it's another example of Republican hide in the sand bullshit. If they had any balls at all, they'd let anyone at all sign the eCard. But, they don't and they won't. So, I guess we'll have to settle for the regular email address to send our Downing Street message.

But, Jesus. Wingnuts have no fucking balls. The truth? They can't handle the truth...

I'm on the RNC's mailing list mainly as a way to keep track of the nasty they spread, but a recent missive from them gave me a thought:
Please help the Republican National Committee celebrate a very special birthday on July 6th.

Join Republicans from across the country in wishing President Bush a Happy Birthday by adding your name to the RNC's e-card. As one of our Party's strongest supporters, I know the President will be delighted to receive your warm thoughts and kind words on his birthday.
I find that last sentence amusing. I ain't never sent 'em a dime...

But here's the idea. Go on and add your name to the card. Or, rather, a name. I suggest Downing St. Memo. The perfect birthday greeting for the Commander in Chimp Thief.

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Check This Out 

Someone who emailed me after finding my blog; very kewl online radio show very worth checking out. So, free plug: Go here now. Dammit. Buzzcat -- better than any FM/AM your car stereo is pulling in. Period.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

DVD Triviata 

This has nothing to do with politics or religion, but it's a big pet peeve of mine, and I'd like to hear if other consumers are as annoyed by it. I'm talking about the bizarre need DVD manufacturers feel to put not one, but three pieces of impossible to remove sticky tape on the packages, top, side and bottom. And this is inside of the shrink wrap that never seems to have a findable "tear here to open" bit.

You know what, guys? If someone wants to steal the damn DVD, they're going to do it, tape be damned. I've read online how to remove a DVD from one of those rental-locked cases in thirty seconds with a safety pin -- and don't worry, it wasn't to steal a DVD. It was because I'd bought a used DVD from a rental store, and they forgot to remove the yellow locking pin.

Anyway, there's a type of DVD case that has one or two locking flaps on the side and, when shrink wrapped, they're impossible to open -- but once you've got the DVD at home, flip flip, it's simple. I've ruined more packages trying to get the tape off. It's not so bad now that most companies have switched over to the hard plastic Amarays (thank you, Warner Bros., for mostly killing that stupid damn cardboard flipper/snapper), but there's nothing worse then pulling the tape only to find out that it's stuck to part of the insert under the plastic, and takes a chunk off with it. (It was worse with the snapper. I have a couple of DVDs in my 400+ collection with big strips of cover art missing because of the damn tape.)

Okay, I rant. But I don't think the DVD manufacturers have a clue about this, and I'm sure it would save them precious pennies in the packagaing process to not have to slap the tape on three sides. Honest people aren't going to steal the damn things; thieves will look at the "security device enclosed" and the tape, and just laugh.

I bring this all up because I decided to watch Private Parts tonight. It's one of those movies I bought because I'd seen it in theatres and liked it, but had never opened it because every time I thought about watching it, I looked at the tape on the package and went, "Eh, why bother." I finally gave in tonight.

But the first few minutes of the movie reminded me that it did kickstart the careers of two great actors: Paul Giamatti and Allison Janney. True, both of them had a number of film roles before this movie, but both of them shined and managed to keep up with if not upstage the King of All Media in his anticipated film debut at the height of his glory. These are two performances that are right on the nose, Giamatti's uptight, explosive "Pig Vomit" and Janney's chain-smoking, prissy Dee Dee, two producers who just didn't get Stern. The casting directors were bang on.

I just wish the DVD manufacturers were half as smart.

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Political Flashback 

I've heard the argument made that, while Nixon was impeached for Watergate, he was really brought down by Vietnam. In other words, the war was the reason but the break-in was the excuse to force him out of office.

And I'm having these strange hopeful tinges, as W's approval numbers plummet, as popular support for the wars on Iraq and terra dissolves, as even Republicans start to distance themselves from the administration, that, perhaps, the Downing Street Memo (Downinggate?) will begin to snowball and, with any luck, we can impeach the perpetrators of this fraud on the American public, and then jail them as the war criminals (and profiteers) that they are.

But... we can't rely on the mainstream media to do it. At Hullabaloo, Digby reports on some disheartening statistice pointed out by Arianna Huffington:
Here are the number of news segments that mention these stories: (from a search of the main news networks’ transcripts from May 1-June 20).

* ABC News: "Downing Street Memo": 0 segments; "Natalee Holloway": 42 segments; "Michael Jackson": 121 segments.
* CBS News: "Downing Street Memo": 0 segments; "Natalee Holloway": 70 segments; "Michael Jackson": 235 segments.
* NBC News: "Downing Street Memo": 6 segments; "Natalee Holloway": 62 segments; "Michael Jackson": 109 segments.
* CNN: "Downing Street Memo": 30 segments; "Natalee Holloway": 294 segments; "Michael Jackson": 633 segments.
* Fox News: "Downing Street Memo": 10 segments; "Natalee Holloway": 148 segments; Michael Jackson": 286 segments.
* MSNBC: "Downing Street Memo": 10 segments; "Natalee Holloway": 30 segments; "Michael Jackson": 106 segments.
Pretty disturbing. In a world that wasn't upside down, the Downing Street Memo would be the news. Instead, we're treated to a parade of unimportant crap. Does anyone really care that some British comedy show squirted Tom Cruise with water and the over-inflated star got all pissy?

So, if we're going to get this story noticed beyond the beltway -- and, surprise surprise, Washington does seem to have taken notice -- we're going to have to do it ourselves. Tell your friends. Direct people to blogs that cover the memo. Tell them about sites like Downingstreetmemo.com. Explain to them that the Administration all but admitted they were going to have a war, they just had to cook the facts to sell it.

Explain to them that at least 1,700 Americans are dead because of this, countless thousands more maimed or crippled for life.

It really is as simple as the slogan. Bush lied, people died. And for that, he should be run out of office on a rail. For that, Congress should be starting impeachment proceedings this very minute.

If we yell loud enough, we can make it happen.

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Funny, Funny... 

I can't help but think that this is a parody site, set up by non-believers to tweak the Christians -- but it does give Bibilical support for pre-marital anal sex, oral sex and other such goodies... including threesomes.

Check it out. And remember that, if you were to be truly biblical, you'd be stoning adulterers (including many of our elected officials) and selling your daughters into slavery.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Heh heh 

Funny update: I reread this post and the business about mystic numbers. Turned out that, for me, the answer was 33 again. Idiots who follow Kabbalah would apply significance to that. I'd just call it coincidence...

Over at Hullabaloo, Digby has an interesting take on America's seemingly incompatible yet overwhelming belief in things paranormal, whether religion or the paranormal:
A recent Gallup survey shows that just about three in four Americans hold some paranormal belief -- in at least one of the following: extra sensory perception (ESP), haunted houses, ghosts, mental telepathy, clairvoyance, astrology, communicating with the dead, witches, reincarnation, and channeling. There are no significant differences in belief by age, gender, education, or region of the country.
...Since more than three quarters of the public believe these things, then it's possible that Real America has more in common with Un-Real America than we think. Maybe this is a Kumbaya moment in which we can all join hands and celebrate our common tradition, across all regional, gender, ethnic and religious lines, of believing in utter bullshit. Let the healing begin.
The attempted destruction of science education in this country is one of those self-perpetuating loops -- the more mucked up science gets with bullshit like "intelligent design," the less effectively students are armed to understand and debunk said bullshit. Seeing as how we already have adults in this country who can say, with a straight face, that creationsim has any place whatsoever in the science curriculum, I'm afraid we've slid a long way from the days when rationalism and science were going to solve all of our problems. That was the flipside of the hippie revolution of the 60s; while the long hairs were out stopping wars, the eggheads were out solving problems -- the high point coming when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in 1969. And the scientists didn't have to worry about religious nuts stopping their research for facetious reasons.

The same nutjobs that believe in creationism are the same ones who cannot be persuaded, no matter how reasoned the arguments that a) there are plenty of unused/unusable zygotes out there from which to harvest stem cells without performing abortions strictly for the purpose; b) the possible benefits of stem cell research outweigh any supposedly moral objections.

Unfortunately, I know plenty of smart people who believe stupid things that are not religious in nature. I'll bet that all of you reading this have a coworker, friend or relative who believes in Astrology and actually reads their horoscope; or who is convinced that UFOs visit us regularly; or that ghosts haunt houses; and on and on.

Here's something I like to do for fun, and you can try it to; it works great at parties. If someone who doesn't really know you well asks you your sign, lie. Just pick something on the spot -- the more different than your own sign the better. Tell them you're a Virgo even if you were born in March; a Leo even if you were born on Christmas. It doesn't matter. Lie sincerely, and you'll tend to get this reaction: "Oh, I knew it. You are so much like a (insert fake sign here)." And then they rattle off the list of reasons why you are were so obviously born under the phony sign.

The trick part, though, is trying to use this to educate them about the fallacy of astrology. I pulled this trick once, told someone I was a Sagittarius (I'm not) and she proceeded to give half a dozen reasons why she "knew" it had to be. When she was done, I told her my real sign, tried to explain that astrology was bullshit, but her answer to this was that all (my real sign) are liars, anyway -- so astrology really worked, blah blah blah.

But... it appalls me that so many Americans believe ridiculous things, without taking the trouble to seek out the science to prove or disprove their beliefs. Any astronomer or physicist can tell you that the planets have less gravitational influence on a newborn baby than the OB-GYN doing the delivery. Not to mention the pesky detail that Astrology had to be completely revamped seventy-five years ago to account for Pluto, after a previous revamp in the 18th Century to account for Uranus. If it was so good, why hadn't it found those planets first or, conversely, why did it have to be changed to include them?

Then there's Kabbalah, which has started to spring up (gee thanks, Madonna and Rosie) like some pesky weed of life out here on the west coast. It's one of those systems that deals with the mysticism of numbers, finding hidden meanings in words and numbers, and blah blah blah. Again, I know people who believe this crap wholeheartedly. Let me demonstrate what's really going on.

As soon as you've read this sentence, look at your computer's time clock, and pick the minutes' digits. (Mine at the time of writing it are 33). Remember that number. Now, over the next week, watch for every occurance of this number in your life -- bus passes, ticket stubs, lottery winners, weather reports, whatever. A funny thing will happen. Pretty soon, you're going to start seeing your magic number everywhere, more than you notice other numbers pop up.

Why? Think about it for a bit. I'll give the answer in a subsequent post, but it's better to figure this one out on your own. When you do, you'll go a long way toward bullshit-proofing yourself in the face of "evidence" that the flakey minded like to use to support their fairytale beliefs -- whether in the paranormal or god or WMD's.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Why Local News Sucks 

Well, if you lived in California today, watching the local news, you'd think that three things happened: a) Nasty high speed chase. b) Nasty high speed chase with kids involved. c) Earthquake.

Or, maybe, reverse the order of those points. And it's just pathetic. We have a pissant little shaker, not even a five as it turns out, and local news dedicates six hours to it, with the obligatory "It was a real jolt" commentary from the local goober squad, capped off by the in the field reporters pissing off the CalTech Lesbians with really stupid questions.

And, in the charivari - what is lost? The Real Story, the Downing Street Memo comes home to roost. John Conyers and company nailed their petition to the door of the White House, throwing down the gauntlet, but I'll bet you didn't hear about that.

Of course you didn't. Because it didn't involve missing white women or earthquakes. Which is total bullshit.

Bill Clinton lied about a blowjob and got impeached.

George Bush lied to start a war. And...?

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Monday, June 13, 2005


Yes, I'm going to fall victim to the mania and weigh in on the Michael Jackson verdict. I'm not at all surprised by the complete not guilty, because all along Sneddon & Co. put up a crappy case. That, and the plaintiffs really came across as a bunch of money-hungry sleazebags anyway. Do I think Michael Jackson was guilty of molesting this particular child? I'm not convinced. Do I think he ever has done inappropriate things with underage boys? Mmmmaybe.

But, y'know what? I don't care. Meaning -- this really shouldn't be news, not if the countless other child molestation trials going on every day in this country aren't news. You can bet a lot more of those anonymous defendants get convicted. And yes, crappy prosecution case and sleazebag plaintiffs aside, I do think that Michael Jackson's fame had more than a little bit to do with his acquital -- q.v. Robert Blake, OJ Simpson, et al. Although I was never really convinced that one of those two was guilty, either. Two guesses which one.

On the bright side, the whole MJ thing will fade away now, until the next indictment. If Jackson's handlers are smart, they'll never let him get within five miles of a twelve year-old boy again. And, if they stay in Santa Maria, you can be sure that Sneddon will have his dogs snooping intently for anything weird. Sneddon, after all, obviously has an agenda. He's still pissed about getting dissed in Leave Me Alone. But, other than those annying analysts pulling answers out of their butts to the question, "Will Michael Jackson be able to resume his career and pick up the pieces?" he's going to drop out of the news cycle real fast.

Cue the next missing white woman, please. Anything to distract us from the Downing Street Memo and other Administration War Crimes, seventeen hundred plus Americans dead in Iraq, the impending return of the Draft, etc., etc.

Celebrity trials and missing white women are just buckets of sand. That makes the American public the ostrich.

We now return this blog to news that's actually important.

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Screw the Workers 

Scary news from USA Today, via Yahoo -- more and more employers are taking the line that they should have control of what their employees do in their off hours.
Lynne Gobbell was fired from her job packing insulation by her Moulton, Ala.-based employer for displaying a John Kerry bumper sticker on her car, according to the Associated Press and numerous media reports. Gobbell could not be reached for comment...

Ross Hopkins, who worked for a Budweiser distributor, sued after he says he was fired for drinking a Coors at a Greeley, Colo., bar after work.

But Jeff Bedingfield, attorney for American Eagle Distributing, says Hopkins was fired in 2003 for making disparaging comments about the company while at the bar wearing a company uniform. The case is expected to go to trial.
This kind of crap started with the "let's pee in a cup" bullshit back in the 80s, and it's only gotten worse over time. Remember the company owner who decided last December to fire any of his employees who smoked off the job, on their own time? Anybody wonder how the hell any company can get away with that?

They get away with it because big business owns the government.
Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little 21-inch screen and howl about America, and democracy. There is no America; there is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. [Ned Beatty, in Paddy Chayefsky's Network]
I long ago chose to refuse to ever apply for any job that would require me to pee in a cup, and have done a pretty good job since then of dodging that crap. As far as I'm concerned, as long as I don't show up at work stoned or wasted, or don't call in sick because of the aftermath of the same, once I walk out the door at the end of the day, it's no employer's business what I do -- and it's especially no employer's place to tell me what bumper sticker I can or can't have on my car. (Haven't heard about anybody being fired for having a Bush/Cheney sticker, have you?) Employers can only get away with what we allow them to, after all, and they can't fire everybody.

Elsewhere, I wrote about Daimler-Chrysler being forced to stop their policy of forcing non-Chrysler employees to park far, far away from the factory. How did it stop? Simple. Tow truck operators refused to tow away non-Chrysler cars parked in the Chrysler-only spots. With no one to enforce their policy, the company backed down.

And here's another way to make them stop this foolishness. If a company wants to regulate their employees' behavior 24/7, fine -- as long as those employees are on the clock, 24/7, and get paid full overtime. Now, since they technically never clock out, everything after the first eight hours is overtime until they take a day off -- which they apparently never do, since vacation wouldn't really count as time off either.

And here's how it works out: for the first week, the employers would be paying an effective 314 hours, and an effective 360 hours per week after that. Even at Federal minimum wage, that's $1,617 the first week and $1,854 per week after that, gross. But, as part of this plan, employers wouldn't be allowed to change pay scales or lower salaries either. But, this way, even minimum wage would be good, with a gross salary of $96,171 per year. If you were getting $25 an hour, congratulations. Your salary is now up to $466,850 per year. Just about enough to afford a modest house in LA.

Of course, a company would have a choice whether to adopt this policy -- either they get to dictate off-hours behavior, or they don't. And employees would have the choice of whether to work for a nanny employer or not. But if companies want to behave in this dictatorial manner, they've got to be forced to pay the price for it. Otherwise, their control over their workers ends the second those workers walk out the door. Period.

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Ajai Raj Was Right 

Whenever I'm about to forget the brilliant job that young Ajai Raj did in putting Ann Coulter in her place with a rudely phrase but dead-on question, someone reminds me what a shrill, vindictive, nasty piece of work she is. That, and a total hypocrit. From The 2% Company:
The women of the religious right, if they truly subscribe to the beliefs they espouse, are of the opinion that all women should be subservient and obedient to their fathers (before they're married) or their husbands (only once they're permanently and irrevocably married). By extension, these women shouldn't be doing anything other than caring for children and the housework, and should keep their noses out of big important things like business and politics.

Hey, Ann — not that we personally agree with this garbage, but if that's what you're getting at, why don't you shut the hell up, get back in the kitchen, and squeeze out some babies? At least then something good would come out of your diatribes: we'd never have to hear from you again.
This comes from Ann's derogatory comments about Mark "Deep Throat" Felt's daughter -- who happens to be a single mother. And, as if that's not bad enough (cough cough), she's also a teacher. A teacher, for god's sake, a profession deserving of burning at the stake in Coulter's eyes, I guess.

I'm with The 2% folk on the teacher thing, though -- if things were right with the world, teachers would be getting multimillion dollar contracts, and pro athletes would work for minimum wage, with no benefits... and women like Coulter would take their own advice and be subservient little hausfraus and just shut up and go away and leave the rest of us alone.

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Sweet Mother of Godless... 

Harvey Wasserman provides us with a good reminder that this country, the US, is not a theocracy, and was never meant to be, despite all the revisionist history the fundies would like to try to shove down our throats. From Wasserman:
It is not the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments that form the bedrock of American values. It is the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution. If anything should be chiseled in stone on our public buildings, it's the Bill of Rights...

Today's corporate-funded fundamentalist jihad is at war with America's uniquely diverse revolutionary soul. Spitting in the face of our historic core, the Big Lie of a "Christian nation" is vintage Rove at his most Orwellian.
It's very important for all Americans to remember this, regardless of religious orientation. (Or is that religious preference? I forget which is PC.) Why? Because America is for all Americans, not for one sect to dictate to another. And if you don't think the fundies want to have their own Taliban here, returning us to the 12th century with their stupidity, just read this bit courtesy of AmericaBlog:
The leader of a conservative Christian lobby group says that gays should be required to wear warning labels.
This conservative leader, Rev. Bill Banuchi of the New York Christian Coalition, uses the facetious argument that we label dangerous products, like cigarettes -- so gays (and presumably lesbians) should wear tags so people can spot them and run away. 'Cause, according to Banuchi, they're the only people on the planet who ever get STDs, apparently. (Coughs, rolls eyes.)

Hm. Labelling a class of people so they can be easily identified. Where have I heard that one before? This time around, do we go with the pink triangles again, or should it be something flashier, like a little rainbow flag on the lapel?

Yes, I'm making a Nazi comparison, because that's exactly what the fundies are -- and, by extension, they are un-American. They are the true terrorists.

There is an online antidote, Atheism Online, a resource for those of us who don't believe in the fairy tales and bullshit, and who want to make sure these fundie idiots can't take over our world. Go check it out, add your own blog if appropriate, and fight the good fight. (Thanks to the folk at The Evangelical Atheist for the tipoff to this site.)

My question for any religious types: "You stopped believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Why do you still believe in god?"

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid 

This is where zero tolerance horseshit hits its high point -- a graduating senior in College Park, Maryland was denied his diploma because he...
  1. Shot up the cafeteria with an AK-47
  2. Masturbated in class and tossed his semen onto another student's face
  3. Wore a bolo tie during the graduation ceremony.
Well, if you've been paying attention in the era of Zero Tolerance stupidity, you know the answer.

That's right, Thomas Benya, outgoing senior at McDonough High School in the Charles Park school district, just wanted to wear a bolo tie during the graduation ceremony, reflecting his Native American heritage. School officials got pissy, said no, then withheld his diploma, which they will only now give him during a private meeting.

And I cry, "Bullshit." This is the most important thing these morons in charge have to worry about? Some kid wants to wear a tie that a few stuck up white people felt "wasn't a proper tie", and so he doesn't get his diploma? And, "expressing his heritage" issue aside, what the flaming fuck does it matter what a student wears at graduation? Isn't everyone already forced to wear matching caps and gowns? Short of going full-body commando under the gown and then waving the junk at the assembled audience, what the hell is the difference whether a student is wearing a three-piece suit, a mumu, a sweatsuit or a jock strap under there?

Honestly, if the administrassholes hadn't drawn attention to it, I doubt that one person in a hunderd in the audience would even think to themselves, "Hey -- Thomas is wearing a funny tie." And, on top of all that, I love the irony that, in Blue States, Thomas's Native American bolo is more associated with rednecks and line dancing.

According to the news story, the family is considering legal action, as well they should. And they have a nice double approach here. After all, were the girls required to wear regulation ties? But of course not -- because, I'll bet a buck that any girl who had asked to wear a regulation man's necktie at the ceremony would have been rejected because, well, you know, if she did that, it would mean that she's a... (whisper) rug muncher.

Well, enough. If you want to call up the fucktards who run this school and tell them what idiots they're being, here's the publicly available info:

Maurice J. McDonough High School
7165 Marshall Corner Rd, Pomfret, MD 20675
(301) 934-2944

As for Thomas Benya, I'm adding him to my Ajai Raj Legion of Heroes, that collection of young people who convinces me that the fucking Baby Boomers have not succeeded in destroying Gen X, Gen Why and Gen Zed -- that there are still young people around who won't put up with the bullshit, who will take a stand for what is right.

Thomas, Ajai, and others -- fight on, and your Gen X brethren will support you. Ask your "naughty" questions, wear your bolo ties... but don't give in to this crap.

To quote Shakespeare, "Never never never never never."

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The Left Can Have Bad Ideas Too 

Without looking up the party of the lawmaker who proposed this, I knew he was a Democrat. Because, yes, liberals sometimes do come up with really stupid ideas as well. It's just that their stupid ideas tend to be at least morally defensible.
Should parents be allowed to spank their children? Massachusetts lawmakers will be debating that question following the filing of a bill that would ban corporal punishment in the commonwealth.

NewsCenter 5's Kelly Tuthill reported that state Rep. James Marzilli, Jr., of Arlington, Mass., is one of the sponsors of the bill, which prohibits everything from spanking to "hot saucing," which involves putting undiluted Tabasco sauce in a child's mouth.
Now, hot saucing, rinsing mouths out with soap and more flagrant forms of child torture, fine. Those we can do without. But, especially for children who don't have a moral sense of right and wrong yet but do have a sense of "ow, that hurt", sometimes a smack on the ass is the only thing that will get through to them.

And I'm not talking a Passion of the Christ type rampage with a leather belt. Maybe three swats max, in the case of particularly heinous and stupid behavior that can possibly endanger life -- like little Billy has just set fire to the living room curtains.

It's really the same as raising dogs. Puppies aren't sophisticated enough to understand language or tone of voice, but a thump with a rolled-up newspaper gets the message across. By the same token, it is always wrong to hit a dog (or an adult), with the possible exception of stopping either of them from going batshit crazy on you or someone else. That's because they should have learned better by then.

My point is, things like grounding or taking away privileges or whatever will not always work with all children, or with any children at certain points in their development. Make them go to their room, and they'll just steam to themselves about how unfair you are, then secretly turn on the DVD player or fire up the GameBoy and will have learned nothing -- except that, next time, they should try to not get caught.

And, short of outright abuse and torture -- the aforementioned hot saucing, for example -- it's really up to the parents to discipline their children as they see fit. If they don't believe in spanking, fine. If they do, and don't cause permanent physical injury, that's their choice and their style.

To those of you who think that any spanking at all is child abuse, I suggest you adjust your definitions. That's like saying changing a diaper constitutes molestation.

We already have laws that prohibit child abuse, and these should always be enforced when appropriate. But it's not appropriate, as noted in the article, to arrest a father for spanking his child, and it is far from appropriate to intrude into parents' lives with a law that removes what is sometimes the best and only option left in cases of discipline.

What's the alternative? Trying to reason with a six year-old? Telling Tommy to go to the quiet loft after he punches his little sister in the head, and think about what he's done? Yeah, like any of those will work. Use that kind of "discipline," and you get stories of nine year-olds strangling their playmates, of teenagers shooting up their high schools.

In an ideal world, of course, we would be able to raise children without physical punishment -- but American society is going to take a lot of work first in that regard. And this is where right meets left in the blame game -- the left cannot try to remove physical discipline in a world where the right has allowed physical violence to flourish, and where being tough is considered an asset.

As long as the W's of the world lead by example and use the example of lying to invade a sovereign nation, parents are going to have to keep spanking their kids to get the lesson across -- don't do that.

Someone should spank Rep. James Marzilli, Jr., and the other sponsors of this bill, then send them off to the cloak room for a time out.

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All's Well that Orwell 

Swingstate Project nails it with their story about the faux GOP outrage in Nebraska because a Democratic blog there referred to an election commissioner as "Tio Thomas". As they put it:
I'll take it a step further. The real slur is that we live in a media-society that believes faux outrage is deserving of a full-feature article, but doesn't have the time or space to devote an entire article, let alone a full-scale investigation, into voter disenfranchisement in its own backyward. This isn't news, it's "scandal" driven infotainment well beneath any organization in place to serve the public interest.
I'll take it a step further here. Something is wrong when a personal insult or slight or comment takes precedence over an actual wrong done to a larger group of people. It's as if the hurt feelings of one whiner are more important than the actual disenfranchisement of, prejudice against, or assault upon an entire class of people.

I'll bring up my own personal poster-boy for the "There's Hope for Gen-Y" campaign, Ajai Raj. He gets a shitstorm of smeaking by the GOP media because he used a naughty word in the presence of Ann Coulter. But where was the outrage when Coulter was advocating the murder of liberals and reporters; when she went so far as to endorse the assassination of the president and vice president? Last I heard, that was the kind of thing that would get you a visit by the Secret Service real fast. Courtesy of Buzzflash, comments typical of her:
"Both were veterans, after a fashion, of Vietnam, which would make a Gore-Davis Presidential ticket the only compelling argument yet in favor of friendly fire." [Originally printed in frontpagemag.com].
We also see the same phenomenon in the GOP response to Howard Dean's absolutely true comment that the Republican Party is the white Christian male party. (He might have added "straight" to that list, but I won't quibble.) Nowhere have I seen the Republicans actually deny Dean's comments. The reaction instead is that it was a nasty mean thing for him to say, blah blah blah.

Well, you know what? I'm tired of this faux-meme that says words are worse than actions. It creates this false equivalency that turns politicians into dissembling, mealy-mouthed liars out of necessity. The few exceptions, people like Howard Dean, say what they mean and mean what they say and tell the truth doing it. We need more politicians like that, but the mainstream media and the GOP whinery try to not let it happen.

Not to mention the hypocrisy. Why are the Republicans, normally no friend to hispanics unless they want votes, so upset at the phrase Tio Thomas when I'm sure they use far worse terms in private to describe illegal aliens? And why are they not upset in the same way when a hack like Ed Klein makes totally unfounded accusations in print that Hilary Clinton is a lesbian?

Perhaps it's because Republicans really can't be outraged by anything, except what their puppet masters tell them to be outraged about. They pick and chose selectively, exemplifying the attitude IOKIYAR: it's okay if you're a Republican.

Well, bullshit. Forget some slight to a petty official in a midwestern State. What about the Downing Street Memo? What about the President lying to the world in order to start a war just because he has some jones for showing up his daddy? What about reports that the number of actual American war dead has been suppressed, that it's actually closer to 9,000, not 1,600? What about W lying about the Patriot Act working, when it failed to stop an alleged al Qaeda-trained terrorist on a no-fly list from being allowed into the country just the other day? (I wonder if he was a friend of the chainsaw-wielding maniac from Canada.)

And the list goes on and on. But we have to stop this crap now. We have to assault the media with our demands. Don't take these non-stories and just repeat the GOP talking points. Don't distract us with bullshit -- Michael Jackson, Runaway Brides, "Brangelina" (whoever coined that one should be shot) -- it's all crap. And if one person gets their feelings hurt, tell them to suck it up, toughen up and refuse to cover the story.

Most of all, tell the GOP to stop whining like a bunch of sissy little girly men when somebody from the other side tells the truth, and to take a look at the libel, slander and crap coming from the mouths (or other orifices) of their own pundits.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why "Homeland Security" Is Total Bullshit 

On the surface, this story makes it sound like the system is working; two men arrested in California, admit they had trained at al Qaeda camps, were trained to attack hospitals and malls...
The FBI has arrested two California men after one of them admitted he attended an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, Justice Department officials said on Wednesday.

Hamid Hayat, 23, and his father, Umer, of Lodi, California, east of San Francisco, were taken into custody over the weekend. Both men are being held on charges of lying to federal authorities.
But... read down a bit, and the story turns from a hopeful example of the FBI actually doing their job to an indictment of all of the so-called Homeland Security bullshit that the rest of us have to put up with -- now, apparently, for no reason at all.
Hamid, whose U.S.-bound flight from Korea was diverted on May 29 to Japan because his name appeared on a no-fly list, had originally denied any involvement in terrorism.

After the plane was diverted, Hamid was interviewed by an FBI agent, the affidavit said. Hamid denied having any connection to terrorism or terrorist activities and was allowed to continue his travel to the United States, it said.

Upon his arrival in California, Hamid again denied being involved in training camps.
Hm. Okay, let me get this straight -- if you're a famous pop singer or a British journalist and your name accidentally winds up on a no-fly list, you don't make it into the country. But if you simply tell the FBI, "Me? Terrorist? Oh, no. Not me. No, no, no," then they let you continue on your merry way.

Jeebus Christ on a crutch. They've diverted planes because someone dropped a nailfile in the toilet; they've created this climate of fear; they've harassed innocent people left and right at check points; and yet this same system blithely lets a guy on a no-fly list waltz on in after he simply says, "Oh no, wrong guy."

Well no fucking wonder 9-11 happened. And the reason they finally did wind up arresting these two? Later, when given a lie-detector test, Hamid admitted that, gosh, he had trained in an al Qaeda camp. Meaning: he turned himself in.

Kind of turns the whole story around, doesn't it? And, additionally, makes me wonder whether Hamid wasn't Abu Ghraibed into confessing.

So -- there's definitely a problem here. One, looks like all this extra security is absolutely useless, a waste of money and a major infringement of American's civil rights. Two, when the FBI actually does their job, they do manage to catch potential terrorists without terrorizing the rest of us. Kind of a happy ending, but I'd still like to know the answer to this question: if things like no-fly lists are so "essential" to our safety, why did it come down to a domestic interview to stop a potential threat?

Or, in other words, why have all this post 9-11 paranoia crap, when the old fashioned ways actually worked?

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Requiscat in Pace 

A marvellous actress, a beautiful woman, from all accounts a wonderful person. Whenever she was onscreen, large or small, she stole the show without even trying, and she was one of those actors about whom I can truly say I would have enjoyed watching her read the phone book.

My thoughts go out to Mel Brooks, and his and Ms. Bancroft's son, Max. Between the two of them, they brought a lot of comedy and a lot of beauty to the world.

The lights on Broadway just went a bit dimmer.

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Reefer Madness 

Much has been written elsewhere about the Supreme Court sticking their heads firmly up their asses on the Medical Marijuana issue -- because, of course, "states' rights" only matter to conservatives when the states are pushing rights that forward the conservative agenda. But I caught a sound bite on the news several times tonight that made me just sit up and scream. It was courtesy of John Walters, Drug Czar, who gave the bland but predictable argument -- "You don't hear about medical crack or medical heroin, do you?"

I paraphrase, because I can't find an exact quote online, but his argument is totally asinine for several reasons. First off -- of course you don't hear of medical crack, because they haven't found a medical use for that yet. The reason you do hear of medical marijuana is because it has been field tested for years, and actually does have a medical use. (Follow that link; yes, there are patients who are receiving medical marijuana thanks to federal caveat). And, in place of "medical heroin", might I say, "medical morphine?" Heroin is just the bastard stepchild of morphine. And ask any eye-ear-nose-throat guy about the uses of medical cocaine -- which is and has been legit for decades. A secret the government doesn't want you to know; they've been providing medical grade, 99.99% pure medicinal coke to the profession for years. It's a topical analgesic and anesthetic. If you ever need to get your nose broken for surgery, chances are they'll stuff a buttload worth of coke up your nostrils first.

The simple truth is this: the Supreme Court bitched out on their usual conservative bent of States' Rights Rule All in order to stop people from smoking pot. And, in making their ruling, they did not stike down California's medical marijuana law. So we have a bizarre double standard at work here -- California's medical marijuana law stands, but the federal government can interfere with its enforcement.

Hm. Sounds like grounds for secession to me. It's high time, pun intended, that California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii tell the other forty-six states to go get fucked, and form their own country. Why not? We could control the west coast, and, combined, would have an economy to rival many other nations.

After all, it was a states' rights issue that led to the first Civil War. And, in comparing the needs of medical marijuana patients to the decree of the Supreme Court, I can't think of a single reason to follow those asshats in robes.

Fucking activist judges.

But, meantime, it's perfectly fine for the pharmaceutical companies to market drugs that have nasty side-effects, to create diseases that don't really exist in order to sell their artificial drugs, to bribe Congress to make sure that a simple organic product that can be grown by anyone remains illegal entirely because of fear, prejudice and stupidity.

Sigh. Maybe, if the SCOTUS just went out and got stoned together, they wouldn't come up with stupid rulings like this one.

But don't hold your breath.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Impeachment Now 

So, tell me again -- why is lying about a blowjob an impeachable offense, while lying to start a war (via Daily Kos) is not?

My only complaint is that John Kerry is the wrong choice to try to bring the Downing Street Memo to national attention -- because it gives the Repugs the obvious spin handle of "He lost the election, he's just bitter." This job should have been given to Ted Kennedy, who will never run for president -- even though, no matter which Democrat raises the issue, you can be sure that Fox News will be screaming "partisan." (It would have been nice if they could have found an Independent to do it, but there are only, what, two independent Congresscritters?)

But, anyway... fuck partisan. This isn't a partisan issue. It's a clean-cut case of a president twisting the facts and lying in order to invade a sovereign nation. Say all you want about Saddam Hussein being evil; it doesn't matter. America does not do business this way. If George Bush had told Congress, "You know what? Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, but he's evil, and whether he has WMD or not doesn't matter, we should take him out," fine. But he didn't. He lied, Congress caved, and over sixteen hundred Americans died.

And the Downing Street Memo is far more damning than any stained blue dress. If Monica Lewinski was enough to get Clinton impeached (unsuccessfully), the Downing Street Memo is enough to get Bush and Cheney hanged.

And it's up to every patriotic American to call up their senator and demand an investigation, demand impeachment, demand justice.

Never mind that the source of the outrage is John Kerry. The real source of the outrage is what was recorded in the Downing Street Memo.

Bush Lied. People Died. Period. Call your senator now. Demand action. Demand justice.

If lying about a blowjob equals impeachment, lying to start a war should equal high treason. And W has done more to tarnish the office of the Presidency than Bill Clinton could have ever done with a handle of Jack and fistful of Viagra.

Take back America. Demand impeachment now. It's your patriotic duty, whether you're a red or a blue.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Scary Scary Scary 

This proposed law should inspire every American to rise up and bitchslap our leaders, and convince them that it might be in their best interests to actually uphold the Constitution of this country, lest they find themselves out of office and in prison for fraud -- for breaking their oaths to uphold the Constitution. (Full text of the original bill is here.)
`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'.
The law also extends this ban to district courts and, scarier:
Any decision of a Federal court which has been made prior to, on, or after the effective date of this Act, to the extent that the decision relates to an issue removed from Federal jurisdiction under section 1260 or 1370 of title 28, United States Code, as added by this Act, is not binding precedent on any State court.
Meaning that, probably illegally, this law is retroactive. That would be the equivalent of, say, outlawing TV remote controls, but then prosecuting anyone who ever owned a TV remote at any time, whether they still had it or not.

This proposed law is a bad idea, period. And it's not just a bad-idea for the freethinkers who don't want religion intruding into their lives, although on the surface it would appear to affect us the most. If a judge decides that you have to convert, become a Baptist and go to church, you can't appeal that decision. Hell, if a judge decides you should be stone to death for adultery, you can't appeal it.

But it goes beyond that, and let's take the flip side. A Baptist judge could decide that Catholic mass and all those saint statues are wrong, and ban them. Likewise, a Catholic judge could force everyone to obey the Pope. And it goes on and on.

The point is, god and religion has no place in American government. Never did, never will. That was ensured by the founders at the very beginning -- that "no law regarding an establishment of religion" business, which they made the First Amendment, no doubt to highlight its importance.

Pardon me while I go into ad hominem mode here, but I am goddamn tired of these whiny, religion-mongering fucksticks being so insecure about the validity of their fairy tales that they have to try to shove them onto everyone else. Hey, asshats, if you want a theocracy, move somewhere else, start your own fucking country and invite all the like-minded butt-monkeys to join you. Make whatever stupid rules you want, but keep 'em there, then go be happy as your society degenerates into a feuding, violent, insular 12th century paradise.

But this, this proposal, this law, this idea, is the height of un-Americanism, and I deeply question the patriotism of anybody who would propose it or support it. They want to do nothing less than replace a document that has served us well for two centuries with a collection of lies, fairy tales, bad literature, violence and hatred.

Tell you what. When their god wants to come on down and take a seat in the Oval office, fine. I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen -- and I won't sit still for people who want to try to tell me it has or that it should.

Contact your senator now. Tell them to oppose S.520, the so-called Constitution Restoration Act of 2005. Tell them now.

And does that title remind you of anything?


Restoration? My ass...

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Flaming Hypocrisy 

Update: Marissa's mom, Dawn, has commented on this post, which you can read by clicking the "comments" link. She corrects my misstatement -- Marissa is not in a vegetative state; nonetheless, this is a tragedy that could have been avoided if certain groups valued all lives equally.

Here's a name for the "culture of life people" to burn into their skulls. Marissa Amora. Forget Terri Schiavo. Fuck Terri Schiavo. If the repugnant repubs really cared about life, there would be an uproar right now seeking Jeb Bush's head on a platter. But they don't, there isn't, and a little six year old girl may die.

Why? She committed the crime of not being born an upper middle class white woman with Christian parents.

Correction. She committed the crime of being born a little black girl in Florida.

'Cause, you see, the wingnuts will pay all the lip service they want to the "culture of life" bullshit, provided the lives in question are white. But when it comes to members of the non-white classes, they couldn't give two flying rats' asses. To whit:
(Jeb) Bush's minions went to court earlier this year in a bid to cut off medical aid to Marissa Amora, who, at the age of 2, had been abandoned by Jeb's "Department of Children and Families" despite overwhelming evidence of horrific past abuse -- and the imminent danger of more to come. More came. Within weeks, she was beaten almost to death; then Jeb's agents tried to stop her medical treatment and let her die. She survived their malign intervention and is now thriving with a new family -- but still suffers from permanent, catastrophic damage caused by the entirely predictable beating she received after the DCF cast her aside.
Remember, now -- these are the same asshats who tried to write a law to force the State of Florida to make Terri Sciavo's husband keep her feeding tube in place against his will and Terri's wishes.

And I don't see a difference. Not that I agree with the concept of forcing someone to live in a persistent vegitative state if they don't want to, but where is the consistency? If the wingnuts had any integrity at all, they'd be out protesting in force in this case too, demanding that Jeb Bush give little Marissa the proper care to see that she remains alive.

But they won't, because, to them, Marissa is just some little ghetto child. I wouldn't be surprised if they even refered to her as a crack baby (a myth created by the Reagan administration, BTW) and wrote her off. Because, if you're a Republican hypocrite, "culture of life" really means "culture of white life with money."

If Jeb is stupid enough to try to run for president in '08, I want to see pictures of Marissa and her story dogging him at every campaign stop, with the slogan, "Jeb, why did you try to murder this little girl?"

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Deep Throat Spinning 

Update: Eschaton points to this piece by Robert George, which says pretty much what I did below. Mark Felt is a hero for having the guts to become Deep Throat.

Yes, let the spin begin -- the rightwing is already trying to impugn W. Mark Felt, the man who admitted this week that he was Deep Throat, the source who led Woodward & Bernstein to the heart of the Watergate conspiracy, bringing down Richard Nixon in the process.

There are various grumblings and mutterings from the right. He violated rules, he did bad things, he shouldn't have blabbed. He was just upset he didn't get the #1 job at the FBI. But it doesn't change one thing. W. Mark Felt saw the law being broken, and he did what he could to see the felons brought to justice. There's a word for that. Hero. Say what you want about him -- as long as you're willing to admit that Nixon was a borderline sociopath who violated many laws and abused the office of the Presidency, and he deserved what he got, although he got off easy and should have served time in prison along with many of his co-conspirators.

Why did Felt come forward now? Simply because he's old, in my opinion. The clock is ticking, he probably never expected to make it into his 90s, and better he basks in the limelight a bit while he's still alive than to have W&B spill the beans when he's dead. But I'd like to think that Mr. Felt had something else in mind. Perhaps he was sending a message, the message being, "Any whistleblowers out there, do your thing now. I got away with it for over thirty years, and so can you." Given his position, #2 man at the FBI, I would like to think that leagues of bureaucrats in Washington are taking notice.

Although, nowadays, they'd do better to give their info to their friendly neighborhood blogger. Because the days of Woodward & Bernstein are long since gone. An informant could walk up to any reporter for any major daily in the US with photos, documents, videos, sworn statements and the like proving beyond any doubt that a member of the administration was guilty of (fill in the blank) and the story would never run. "Oh, we don't want to do what Newsweek did," their editors will purr as they spike the story and then kiss Karl Rove's fat white ass.

Well, what Mr. Felt did was nothing short of wonderful. Justice was served thanks to his actions. We need more people like him and we need them now.

So, ignore the blather and character assassination from the right. And if you're in a position to do now what Mr. Felt did then, do it. Speak your conscience, tell the truth, dish the dirt.

Save the world.

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